Digital Forms in Healthcare: Comparing the Usability of Single-Page, Multi-Page and Conversational Forms

Aleeha Iftikhar, RR Bond, V. E. McGilligan, Stephen James Leslie, Charles Knoery, Anne McShane, Ciara Quigg, Ryan Campbell, Kyle Boyd, Khaled Rjoob, Aaron Peace

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Introduction: Even in the era of digital technology, several hospitals still rely on paper-based forms for data entry for patient admission, triage, drug prescriptions, and procedures. Paper-based forms can be quick and convenient to complete but often at the expense of data quality, completeness, sustainability, and automated data analytics, to name but a few limitations. Digital forms could improve data quality by assisting the user when deciding on the appropriate response to certain data inputs (e.g., classifying symptoms, etc.). Greater data quality via digital form completion not only helps with auditing, service improvement and patient record keeping, but also with novel data science and machine learning research. Whilst digital forms are becoming more prevalent in healthcare, there is a lack of empirical best practices and guidelines for their design. The study based hospital had a definite plan to abolish the paper form, hence not need to compare the digital forms against paper form. Objective: In this study, we assess the usability of three different interactive forms, namely, 1) a single page digital form (where all data input is required on one web page), 2) a multi-page digital form, and 3) a conversational digital form (a chatbot). Methods: These three digital forms were developed as candidates to replace a current paper-based form used to record patient referrals to an interventional cardiology department (Cath-Lab) at Altnagelvin Hospital. We recorded usability data in a counterbalanced usability test (60 usability tests: 20 subjects x 3 form usability tests). The usability data included task completion times, the System Usability Scale (SUS) scores, the User Experience Questionnaire (UEQ) data, and data from a Post Experiment Questionnaire questionnaire.Results: We found that the single-page form outperformed the other two digital forms in almost all usability metrics. The mean SUS score for the single-page form was 76±15.8 (p<0.05) compared to the multi-page form with a mean score of 67±17, and the conversational form performed least with a mean score of 57±24 . A SUS score greater than 68 is considered above average. The single-page form achieved the least task completion time when compared to the other two digital form styles. Conclusion: In conclusion, the digital single page form outperformed the other two forms in almost all the usability metrics with the least task completion time compared to the other two digital forms. Moreover, upon answering the open-ended question from the final customised post experiment questionnaire, the single-page form was the preferred choice. 
Original languageEnglish
JournalJMIR Human Factors
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2021


  • digital forms
  • healthcare
  • usability evaluation
  • single-page form
  • multi-page form
  • conversational forms


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